Recognition for legend
colt with a Matamata connection was charging to the line in the A$500,000 feature.
That horse was Criterion, a graduate of local nursery Blandford Lodge and racing in the colours of his breeder, Sir Owen Glenn. Unfortunately Sir Owen was absent on business in England on a weekend when not only did his best racehorse score a Group One win, but his Auckland Warriors rugby league team refound form with a win over the Tigers in Wellington on Saturday night.
This time last year Criterion was a leading Golden Slipper Stakes candidate with wins in the Black Opal and Todman Stakes. He managed a useful sixth in the big juvenile event and returned last spring to compile a frustrating run of placings, including second in the Spring Champion Stakes and fourth in the VRC Derby.
Back for the autumn, another Group One placing followed in the Australian Guineas, so it was a thoroughly deserved result when he claimed the Rosehill Guineas, which now has him at the top of the betting for the A$2 million Australian Derby.
Back in Matamata, Sir Owen’s Blandford Lodge partner Graham Bax was enjoying the Sydney win, not just because the colt was foaled and reared at home but because a close relation will be one of the stud’s yearling draft to be offered at the Sydney Easter Sale next week.
The Bax name was also to the fore at Awapuni on Saturday, with Graham, his wife HelenGaye and daughter Kylie involved in the ownership of final race winner Lilly Belle.
Under the training of Phil Stevens, the Savabeel mare has spent much of the past few weeks on the road, but to good effect.
Two starts at last month’s Wairoa meeting produced a first and a second, another win followed at Te Teko a fortnight ago, and on Saturday she made the rise to premier company with a plucky win over 2100 metres.
Waikato Stud sire Savabeel had a big day at Awapuni, headed by a win in the Gr. 2 Awapuni Gold Cup by a second daughter, Soriano, and another to the talented 3-year-old Kawi.
Associate sire O’Reilly was to the fore as well, with his two-yearold daughter O’Marilyn winning the Gr. 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes and the five-yearold Pussy O’Reilly mare taking her first black-type win in the Listed open sprint. Both Soriano and Pussy O’Reilly were ridden by that ageless veteran Noel Harris, while Pussy O’Reilly took Ken and Bev Kelso’s tally of black-type wins this season to six.
Jim Marks: Flanked by colleague Bill Ewen and trainer Lance Noble, will be honoured at today’s Matamata race meeting.